In the history of international politics, there have been numerous ideas that proved both myopic and moronic. But few — if any — have proved more so than the ill-conceived idea of foisting statehood on the Palestinian-Arabs.
Particularly puzzling is the fact that any prospective Palestinian state is almost certain to embody the very antithesis of the values invoked for its inception its the liberal left supporters.
Gaza: The Gravest Indictment of Two-Statism.
Significantly, it is Gaza, where the misguided experiment in Palestinian self-government was first initiated (1994) that has now become its gravest indictment.
For in Gaza, the specter of "humanitarian disaster" hovers constantly over the general population, awash in untreated sewage flows, with well over 90 percent of the water supply unfit for drinking, electrical power available for only a few hours a day, and unemployment rates soaring to anything between 40-60 percent.
Moreover, if there were any hopes that Israel’s 2005 unilateral departure from Gaza would spur the Palestinian-Arab leadership to divert the focus of its efforts from terror-related activity to constructive nation-building, they were soon to be dispelled.
Indeed, quite the opposite occurred. Exploiting the absence of the IDF, the Palestinian-Arab terror groups embarked on a feverish drive to enhance their capabilities to inflict harm on Israel and Israelis. To illustrate the point, when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the rockets which the Palestinian terror groups had at their disposal, had a range of barely 5 kilometers and a carried an explosive charge of around 5 kilograms. Today, they have missiles with ranges over 100 kilometers and warheads of 100 kilograms, i.e. they have enhanced these capabilities by a factor of 10!
Overhead and Underground Threats
Moreover, they have developed additional abilities which were barely conceivable back in 2005. Arguably, the most menacing development is the excavation of an extensive array of tunnels underneath much of Gaza — including cross-border attack tunnels to facilitate raids to murder or abduct Israeli citizens and soldiers.
Israel has, of course, also been forced to invest huge sums in a quest to find an effective response to the overhead threat of rockets/missiles and the underground menace of tunnels.
The former has resulted in the largely effective "Iron Dome," keeping the Israeli civilian population safe from overhead attack — by intercepting very cheap, primitive projectiles with very costly and sophisticated ones.
The underground tunnels have proved a more challenging problem, and Israel has diverted enormous resources in search of a solution to the threat they pose. Recent successes in discovering and destroying several such tunnels suggest that some progress has been made in regard.
In addition to these technological efforts, Israel has undertaken the construction of a physical anti-tunnel barrier along the entire 50 plus kilometer border with Gaza. Dubbed by the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, "the largest project" ever carried out in Israel’s military history, it will comprise a six meter wall above ground and an underground concrete barrier, replete with advanced sensors, reportedly reaching depths of 40 meters.
Imagine a Giant Gaza Overlooking Tel Aviv
Accordingly, given the resounding failure of the endeavor to confer self-determination on the Palestinian-Arabs — and the enormous cost incurred in contending with that failure — it seems utterly incomprehensible that not only do demands to persist with it continue — but also to greatly expand it!
For despite the Palestinian-Arabs proven inability to successfully meet the challenges of self-determination, pressures still endure to extend the experiment to the much larger territory of Judea-Samaria (a.k.a. the "West Bank").
The scale of this predestined folly is perhaps best illustrated by the size, cost and complexity of the previously mentioned anti-tunnel barrier under construction. After all, if Israel’s evacuation of Gaza gave rise to the need to build a multi-billion shekel barrier to protect the sparsely populated, largely rural South, the evacuation of Judea-Samaria is clearly likely to give rise to a need for a similar barrier to protect the heavily populated, largely urban areas, which would border the evacuated territories.
There would, however, be several significant differences.
For, unlike Gaza, with a 50 km border with Israel, any prospective Palestinian-Arab entity in Judea-Samaria would have a frontier of anything up to 500 kilometers (and possibly more, depending on the exact parameters of the evacuated areas).
Moreover, unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority over its surrounding environs, the limestone hills of Judea-Samaria dominate virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.
Under these conditions, demilitarization is virtually irrelevant—as illustrated by the allegedly "demilitarized" Gaza. For even in the absence of a conventional air-force, navy, and armor, lightly armed renegades with improvised weapons could totally disrupt the socioeconomic routine of the nation at will, with or without the complicity of the incumbent regime.
Faced with this grim prospect, any Israeli government would either have to resign itself to recurring paralysis of the economy, mounting civilian casualties and the disruption of life in the country, or respond repeatedly with massive retaliation, with the attendant collateral damage among the non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab population and international condemnation of its use of allegedly "disproportionate force."
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
But it is not only demilitarization that is largely irrelevant. So too is the alleged sincerity of any prospective Palestinian "peace partner." For whatever the deal struck, its durability cannot be assured.
Even in the unlikely event of some Palestinian, with the requisite authority and sincerity to conclude a binding deal with Israel, emerging, he clearly could be removed from power – by ballot or bullet — as the Gaza precedent clearly demonstrates.
Accordingly, based on both past precedent and sober political analysis, there is precious little reason to believe that any Palestinian state, established in any area evacuated by Israel, would not swiftly degenerate into a mega-Gaza, overlooking greater Tel Aviv —with all the attendant perils such an outcome would entail.
So, in response to the question "What could possibly go wrong?" the answer must be "Pretty much everything."
Dr. Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, dedicated to the preservation and propagation of joint values shared by the USA and Israel as embodied in the U.S. Constitution and Israel’s Declaration of Independence. He served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment and acted as a ministerial adviser to Yitzhak Shamir's government. Sherman lectured for 20 years at Tel Aviv University in Political Science, International Relations, and Strategic Studies. He holds several university degrees — B.Sc. (Physics and Geology), MBA (Finance), and PhD in political science/international relations. He was the first academic director of the internationally renowned Herzliya Conference and has authored two books as well as numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of political, diplomatic and security issues. He was born in South Africa and has lived in Israel since 1971. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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